Friday, August 27, 2010


A few weeks ago, I found the two of hearts by the Joan of Arc statue in Malcolm X Park, but I've already done that card. Later that day I found the seven of diamonds on the stairs of our apartment building, so that dictated this one being done.

Seven of Pentacles
First Harvest

I just let it happen--
Bindweed's grasp and white-fluted flower,
Joe-pye weed's flesh-purple plumes shivering
With bees, sticky milk of fig sap,
Tomato fruit skin fit to burst
Slippery seeds on the ground, fennel seed falling,
Nettle, thyme blossom froth, rosemary spikes,
All tangled, all climbing, all pressing,
All hiding damp depths careful fingers
Can find, there, in the shade, the root.
And in the center, a surprise--lunaria,
Stalks wire-thin and tough, each seed pod
A coin to be spent on the future.

Here at the midpoint, I learn to lean
And let go, to poise between
The first harvest and the second planting.

Another name for lunaria is honesty. It appears to need to be cultivated carefully.

I just got another citation from the community garden about my plot being too weedy. I just let two phone calls go to the answering machine to finish writing that. I could tear myself to pieces for falling behind in every way, or I could enjoy the weeds and crickets.

I have so many damned mosquito bites, and I'll need to be outside all day and evening tomorrow. I would like to cover myself with a net. No fear, someone will be along to do just that before long, I'm sure.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Agate and Datura

I'm late to this one, but I was on the Godchecker site, which I love and use for work (naming projects--I always slip a few pagan god options into the lists of names for IT companies and condo developments), and somehow got skipped to this story blaming Mars' lassitude on a plant product. I think it's more likely she wore him out.

But seriously, I have been thinking of Venus a lot lately. Today Mercury went retrograde, but I'm preoccupied with the Venus retrograde, in Scorpio, that starts Oct. 8. Lot of convergence there. The traditional view is that love, art and money will suck. Another view: You'll go deep. More so than you thought you could or wanted to. Here's one interpretation that compares it to the journey of Inanna; Isis and Osiris would work as well. Death and rebirth of love (and art). Takes a test, a journey to make it real, to make it live. (I know the link there is to the last retrograde; everything applies except for the parts about Venus in Aries. This time it's Scorpio. Death and rebirth.)

I'm starting late to work with the Venus/Aphrodite/Oshun archetypes. I suppose I should have been praying to her all along, as the goddess of love can control even other supernatural beings and is therefore the most powerful. But I was more interested in playing with Maui/Mercury/Exu and placating Saturn/Kronos. Now I have seen the light, and it's the color of honey.

Beaches mean used book stores, and there I found Erica Jong's Sappho's Leap, and skimmed through it for the poems. Yes, there is ambiguity in calling on Venus at near-50. Are you sure? Are you kidding? Don't you have other things to do? Isn't it unseemly? Lotta people give me a hard time for liking her, and I just say, baby, Rita Mae Brown. For getting this, and for getting Henry Miller, she must have her props. Here's a bit from one of the poems, Jong's original ones, not the Sappho translations.

But you--joker Aphrodite--
send me another man
to worry my pulse
& fill my eyes with mischief,
my skin with false dawn.
What is another man
but trouble?

...Take away this Phaon!
This agate-eyed aging Adonis
wooing me with words!

But even as I say this
your most secret eyes meet mine:
"Just one more tumble into ecstasy,"
you tease. "Who knows what hymns to my glory
you will write now,
at the peak of your powers?

What are the lives of poets
but offerings to the goddess they serve?
Do you think such worship is a choice?
Even immortals
Obey her capricious laws."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

All Request Radio Drama

We got some beautiful Saturday afternoon WPXN action driving from DC to NJ. It was about 4:20, and brother, could you tell from the requests coming into the all-request show. It made for compulsive listening and kept me wondering why I don't tune the computer to that station more often. My daughter, on the other hand, has become enamored of old-time radio shows and DH has downloaded a bunch onto the iPod, so that's why she keeps nagging about Dragnet. It's resulted in some interesting conversations about cars, the death penalty, and smoking cigarettes.

The story you are about to read is sort of true.

[Scene: Car, that stretch of Helaware that's all tolls.]
DH: Is this Country Joe and the Fish?
ME: (Thinks for a minute.) No, Allman Brothers. My sister used to play it all the time.
DD: (Sings along with guitar runs, trilling along in the booster seat.)
[Next song cued up.]
ME: This song sounds so familiar. It's something my brother or sisters listened to. It feels like around the same time as...I don't know, some kind of British progrock, same time as Tull, living in the past?
DD: This song is weird.
ME: Who the hell was this? (Sings along: "Just like your woman loves you...just like your woman loves you...") I know this song, I really do. How weird.
[It is Andy Pratt's Avenging Annie, a pleasant earworm, and it is weird. One of the instruments listed is "Cat." I'm not sure how I feel about that.]
DD: Can we listen to Dragnet now?
ME: Just a few minutes. I want to hear the end of this set.
[Long cymbal clash I can't even hear, but DH picks it up.]
DH: This is Mahavishnu. Birds of Fire.
ME: They haven't even started playing it yet. How did you know?
DH: I've played this one a lot.
ME: It sounds kind of like King Crimson. Are you sure it's not King Crimson?
DH: If I know it from one cymbal, how would I not be right?
DD: Has it been a minute yet?
ME: I really know this song too. Everything is sounding familiar in this weird time-bending way. Jesus, what is the deal with that guy? Why does he want to kill me? Oh my god, his license plate says "three times a lady." [3X A LDY]
DH: I've probably played it a lot. Since college.
ME: (Forgetting DD is in car) You probably played it for me when I was high and it freaked me out. Oops.
ME: (Sings along really loudly with There is a Light that Never Goes Out, probably traumatizing DD for life.)
[DJ cues Roxy Music Remake/Remodel]
DH: It's the all-Maria request hour.
ME: Yeah, it's like we're sending them secret signals.
DD: Can I listen to Dragnet? It's been WAY more than a minute.

Photo: If you can figure out the connection, I'll bring you back a zeppole.

Friday, August 13, 2010

"I Am Delirious Because I Am Dying So Fast"

I learned of the death of an acquaintance recently and I realized I still had a book she had lent me more than 20 years ago. Henry and June, the version of Nin's diary condensed with all the good parts. I have a lot of the long diaries, too, picked up in used bookstores over the years, where they always seem to be.

I have a lot of bad feeling about having this book--it's pretty evil to borrow a book for that long, and to not be able to do much about it now. I don't mind it when people even take my books, actually. I think they go where they need to. But most people don't feel this way, and I don't think they should just because I do, or that what is essentially my carelessness and diffidence is somehow more admirable because it's less possessive. Most people regard people who don't return books as the lowest of the low.

I'll need to make a donation to something she would have liked to try to restore the karma. The more courageous lesson I could learn is not to avoid getting in touch with someone, thinking, oh, they would just find it an annoyance to hear from me.

But it has gotten me dipping in and out of Nin and Miller again. Tonight I tried opening the book at random three times to see what we get. No one knows how much time they've got. That makes me want everything now. I know, it's a rationalization with all the grace and ingenuity of pleading a case of blue balls, but at least it's based in fact.

A summer evening. Henry and I are eating in a small restaurant wide open to the street. We are part of the street. The wine that runs down my throat runs down many other throats. The warmth of the day is like a man's hand on one's breast. It envelops both the street and the restaurant. The wine solders us all, Henry and me, the restaurant and the street and the world. Shouts and laughter from the students preparing for the Quatz Arts Ball. They are in barbaric costumes, red-skinned, feathered, overflowing from buses and carts. Henry is saying, "I want to do everything to you tonight. I want to lay you on this very table and fuck you before everybody. I'm nuts about you, Anais. I'm crazy about you. After dinner we're going to the Hotel Anjou. I'll teach you new things."

When I talk about her, Henry says, "What a lovely way you have of putting things."
"Perhaps it is an evasion of facts."
He says to me exactly what I wrote some time ago; I submit to life and then I find beautiful explanations for my act. I make the piece fit into the creative weaving.

The core of my being is touched by a body which overpowers mine, inundates mine, which twists its flamed tongue inside of me with such power. He cries, "Tell me, tell me what you feel." And I cannot. There is blood in my eyes, in my head. Words are drowned. I want to scream savagely, wordlessly--inarticulate cries, without sense, from the most primitive basis of my self, gushing from my womb like honey.

Damn books. She was only 58.

If I have a book of yours, please tell me.

Photo: Like Fred Ward. And Uma. And Uma's feet.

Headline: Miller wrote it. He lived a long time. He didn't even get started really until 40.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

This Beast Is No Slouch

Here's another one I got from an attempt to work magic among the monuments.

The Jefferson Stone

One who knows but doesn't often say told me the story:
In their time a stone was laid to mark the line,
But in our time the line no longer lies there.

When it comes to when and how the stone was moved
Most are dumb and others play so, but it's a fact
That the stubby pointer of granite, placed to trip up
Night stumblers on the nation's lawn, has had its
Privileged distinction rudely chiseled from its face.

A decoy? A masked king? The work of our enemies
Or of our protectors? It's a politician's periodic game
To seek to shift boundaries, even to the way
We measure time. Change the calendars! comes the command
From men of reason whose grip on power starts to slip.
Or perhaps it was the stonecutters who constructed the canals of Mars,
Or a simple flock of sheep, nosing and shoving their fellows aside
For the sweetest grass, beside that swamp our fathers called the Tiber.
A meridian, after all, is only a convention, a relative
Construction; we are free to move the center where we may.

And before the question leaves me, he has the answer:
No, knowing all this doesn't make it any easier.

The error's magnitude shakes the poles; latitude
And longitude unmoored, the straight tracks cracked,
The cables that held the grid snap and coil like dreams of snakes,
The freestone obelisk thrusts through the asphalt,
The rings of the astrolabe clang to the concrete
And are carted off for scrap by looters.
Far off, on a vessel navigating the rising waters,
The boy, climbing the rigging, lifts the glass
And spies not a New World but an ancient one
Rising from the sea. The heart was not
Where you have been told the heart must be.

This is also kind of about WikiLeaks, which I was trying to explain to my daughter this morning. We had some deep discussions and questions about what you would do if you knew a secret that was hurting someone. When is it right to tell a secret? We worked some things out about going to a grownup (like me, she's still young enough for that).

But I'm still wondering about knowledge and what good it does. Will these leaks make any difference? Is it corrupted information to start with? What's the real motivation? We've been told for years now that information is the new currency, but it hasn't paid for my rent, grits or groceries yet. The CEO of Project Vigilant certainly seems to think it's worth something--I have to laugh that even McCarthyesque spying and snooping has been outsourced to a private corporation that is vigorously marketing itself by riding the headlines. Is my occasional sexting really worth something to somebody? Who? Why? And how much? Those are some journalist-type questions I kind of sort of remember from way back.

Photo: The Noyes armillary sphere, formerly residing in Meridian Hill Park. The photo's in public domain, so I don't know why it's got this guy's name all up in it, but his blog is a fascinating piece of work, so why not add a plug. I've got a note into the dude to find out what the deal is with using the photo.

UPDATE: It really is a great website; more sites about DC cartography, please! Anyway, he says he tags the photos that he hunts down and processes, which makes sense, and asked for a direct link the page that talks about the armillary sphere. Here we go, and thank you Mr. Schiller.